Saturday, January 12, 2008

True Tears ep2: Made in China?

I loved the first ep of True Tears, and I liked the second ep at least as much. The outstandingly detailed animation of episode one was hardly diminished in episode two. Imagine my surprise when I read the end credits and found that the names of the entire key-animation staff, as well as the animation supervisor and even the director of the episode all looked Chinese.

Now, I'm not going to go as far as some on 2channel and call this a Chinese anime: the director and writer and much of the other staff are Japanese. And director Nishimura Junji did the storyboard for the episode. But it is promising for consumers, and perhaps threatening for Japanese animators, that both Chinese and Korean animation has risen to the level that outsourcing to either country does not necessarily involve any drop in quality. I should add that most of the names of animators, though in Chinese characters, might also be Korean, as a comment says.

Now we see how P.A. Works plans to keep up the high level of detail they gave us in episode one. The studio has been around for a while, but always assisting the main production studio. This is the first show they have taken on themselves.

They grabbed a good director from Studio Deen, Nishimura Junji, and he brought in a top writer, Okada Mari. They established a high standard in episode one, using Japanese animators. And now they plan to maintain that standard using less expensive Chinese animation staff that they have perhaps developed themselves over years of assisting other companies.


Xstacy02 said...

Correction: Made-in-KOREA, not China. The high number of Kims and Lees does not always imply Chinese (or PRCs for that matter)

Animation production co-operation: Union-Cho (a South Korean firm)

The animation quality is very high for an outsourced work, which implies a high budget ---> good for those seeking quality animation.

The quality of outsourced anime varies according to budget. Usually, anime outsourcing goes to the better foreign studios but like mention earlier, this also depends on the budget.

Anonymous said...

NARUTO is in a terrible state because it depended on an outsourced work.
I think that True Tears was lucky.

hashihime said...

@xstacy2 -- I did notice the Kims, Lees, Song, Yi, etc. But in kanji? Nevertheless, since all the kanji are traditional forms, it clearly isn't mainland. And the names are not mainland-style names. And since you know the company, I'm willing to believe you're right. Do the kanji in the names have a Korean feel to them?

@anonymous -- As I said, outsourcing now doesn't necessarily mean a drop in quality -- but it certainly can. Yoakena's spherical cabbage was a probable example. I think the key is not luck but good management: picking the right foreign firms, and keeping close tabs on them so that they stay on-model.

basic.syntax said...

A rough cut of the first Simpson's episode is included with the DVD Season 1 set. The outsource animation house seemed to have taken the US animator's keyframes, drunk vast quantities of alcohol, and drawn whatever they wanted. It was so amazingly bad, the Simpson's producers thought their baby was dead.

The audio commentary with the rough cut is alternately hilarious and sad: at one point, one of the producers leaves the recording booth, simply unable to endure any more of this reminder of a personal nightmare.

After much discussion and deleted expletives, the kinks were ironed out.

Xstacy02 said...

@anonymous: Seong Bo Yaeng Hang isn't entirely bad....Studio Pierrot has long been outsourcing to its Korean contractor since the days of Yuyu Hakusho and beyond. Budget IS the constraint....and yes, frequent and complete outsourcing should take part of the blame too...

@Hashihime: Yes, Korean names can be written in kanji, or rather, hanja (in Korean). The Kanji is written not in traditional form, but the form that is available in Japanese Kanji. Some Kanji are traditional and some are simplified, so it is actually a mixture of both. Even simplified Chinese hanzi will be rendered in traditional Japanese kanji if the simplified hanzi is not in kanji.
Sometimes, it's hard to tell if a 3-letter kanji name is Chinese or Korean, but chances are, if you see more 金,李,朴, it's more likely Korean; and more of 張 and 陳 implies Chinese.